After being charged with a crime, many of our clients voice the biggest concern over all else: “Will I go to jail?”
While incarceration is certainly no fun, going to jail or prison may not be the worst penalty you encounter if you are being convicted of a crime in North Carolina.
For many North Carolinians convicted of a criminal offense — whether major or minor — the most devastating consequence is the lifelong stain on your criminal record.
How and When Your Criminal Record Can Be Used
In simple terms, a criminal record is recorded information about your arrests or convictions. Federal, North Carolina, and local law enforcement keep criminal records for many purposes. Identifying and locating suspects in new cases, and keeping tabs on repeat offenders are two of them.
The thing is, law enforcement authorities aren’t the only ones who have access to your criminal history. Criminal record information shows up on background checks, which are frequently run by potential employers, volunteer organizations, loan officers, and landlords when screening applicants.
That means that in addition to the social stigma of having a criminal record, your North Carolina conviction can have a significant impact on your wallet.
How a North Carolina Criminal Record Can Impact Your Finances
Even after serving any jail time and paying any fines, your criminal record may continue to take a toll on your financials for years to come. We’ve explained the different ways a criminal record can impact your finances below.
Finding a Job
If an employer – or even a volunteer organization – runs a background check on you as a prospective employee or volunteer, any criminal history and the company may refuse to bring you aboard.
Understandably, they are worried about the risk you may pose to the business and/or other employees.
Additionally, you may be automatically disqualified from certain jobs — such as airport personnel or jewelry sales – if you have been convicted of a felony.
Taking Out a Loan
Lending institutions may also investigate your background, including your criminal record, credit history, and your family ties.
If you are found to have a criminal record, a loan officer might decide you are a high-risk candidate and deny you a loan — or worse, inflate your interest rate to mediate risk.
Landlords, too, tend to run background checks on prospective tenants before agreeing to rent housing. A landlord may charge you a higher rate or deposit if he or she finds out you have a criminal history.
North Carolina landlords often even flat out deny housing altogether when they can do so reasonably within the law.
Reclaiming Your Future and Protecting Your Finances after a Criminal Conviction in North Carolina
If you have been convicted of a crime in North Carolina, all is not lost. If you meet certain criteria, you could qualify to have your record expunged.
When that happens, your record is legally clear, and essentially it becomes as though the crime never occurred in the first place.
North Carolina allows for both felony and misdemeanor crimes to be expunged from your record in qualifying cases. However, there are certain cases when expungement is not allowed. Further, it is only possible to have one offense expunged at a time.
If you are trying to turn your life around, it can be disheartening to have a criminal blemish keep you from moving forward.
To reclaim your future and protect your finances, it makes sense to determine if you are qualified and seek a criminal record expungement.